Postcard from Malaga, Spain: Joining the flock grazing through art at the Pompidou

Homage to Amnesty International

“Flock of Sheep,” Francois-Xavier Lalanne, 1965/1979, and “Model to the Third International,” a reconstruction of Vladimir Tatlin’s 1919-1920 monument made by Les Ateliers Longepe (Chatillon) in 1979 

The remodeled port area in Malaga is pristine. Probably particularly appealing to the crowds regurgitated from cruise ships who feel comforted by the familiar upscale chains that populate the waterfront mall.

Until 2015.

The City Council of Malaga took an incredibly bold step to enter into a contract with the Pompidou Center in Paris to open its first branch outside of France – Centre Pompidou Malaga. I have no idea whether the investment is paying off, but it’s a beautiful facility that mounts major exhibitions further enhancing Malaga’s strong reputation as a city of internationally important museums.

Of course, Malaga had a head start. It is the birthplace of Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). And you cannot take many steps through the city without bumping into a reminder of the fact.

The museum is reputed to often attract crowds packed like sardines in a tin (apologies to Frank Scurti’s sardine-tin bed above). But we totally lucked out on our timing. Could relax and graze slowly gazing at the art (apologies also to Francois-Xavier Lalanne’s “Flock of Sheep,” evidently possessing good taste).

Truly felt like visiting a miniature Parisian Pompidou. Except luxuriously private and intimate.

Postcard from Malaga, Spain: The Alcazaba and Castillo protected Malaga for centuries

The Teatro Romano at the base of the Alcazaba

Built in the 1st century BC during the reign of Emperor Augustus (63 BC-19 AD), the ruins of the Teatro Romano served as a convenient quarry for the Moorish fortress being constructed above in the 700s. Some of the amphitheatre’s columns and capitals were recycled and can be picked out in the Alcazaba.

As for the Teatro Romano, through the centuries it was filled with rubble and forgotten until “rediscovered” during a construction project in 1951. Excavation and restoration did not begin until 1995, and it reopened for outdoor performances in 2011.

Entrances to the Alcazaba were angled advantageously on the hillside to protect the Moorish fortress. Most of the Alcazaba’s remaining palatial structures were erected between the 11th and 14th centuries.

The security of the Alcazaba was eroded with the advent of artillery usage in warfare. So in the 14th century, Yusuf I (1318-1354) built a hilltop castle, Castillo de Gibralfaro, to protect Alcazaba down below.

The ascent to the castle was a climb. Upon arrival at the top, of course, we observed a shuttle bus that approached it from the other side. The climb did, however, make one appreciate its topographic advantage with commanding view on all sides, particularly of the harbor.

The descent was somewhat challenging as the soles of my shoes bore a seemingly impenetrable layer of wax from weeks of wandering around Andalusian streets coated in wax from candlelit Holy Week processions. It has taken several hundred more miles of walking to finally render the rubber soles safe again.

Following the expulsion of Moorish rulers in 1487, the Castillo remained a military garrison until 1925.

Postcard from Malaga, Spain: Unauthorized exhibit of Banksy’s protest art

Rats: They exist without permission. They live in quiet desperation amongst the filth. And yet they are capable of bringing entire civilizations to their knees. If you are dirty, insignificant and unloved, then rats are the ultimate role model. They have no respect for society, and they have sex 50 times a day.

Banksy

The mysterious hooded lord of all street art. The man billed as bucking against anyone charging a buck, well in this case a euro, to view his art.

We saw an exhibition in Bologna a few years ago with Banksy in its title that had very little to do with the artist – a 13-Euro price tag.

But this “unauthorized” exhibition at La Termica in Malaga – “Banksy: The Art of Protest” – seemed so much less commercial. A pure tribute.

Showing Banksy is somewhat risky. In Brussels in 2018, an entire exhibition was seized by the court. Pressed for comment, Banksy released a statement about the exhibition that Urenna Ukiwe quoted in an article in The Guardian:

Hmm. Not sure I’m the best person to complain about people putting up pictures without getting permission.

And the repurposed setting has such an un-aristocratic history. Before its recasting as a contemporary art center, La Termica’s institutional rooms functioned as an orphanage and then a sanitorium.

In 2015, Banksy launched a month-long pop-up on the Bristol seaside entitled “Dismaland,” “a family theme park unsuitable for small children.” It might be gone, but don’t dismay.

The flaw in this late-delivered “postcard” is that the Malaga exhibit closed this week. The good news is a cd coincidentally was released at the same time in Austin, Texas.

Bottlecap Mountain‘s “Dismayland” lives on as a perfect soundtrack….

Buy it.